Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Natural World and Imago Dei: Common Sense Philosophy Updated

Today's NY Times discusses Science of the Soul (possibly in a continuum with the essay by Republican Presidential Candidate Senator Sam Brownback, "What I think about evolution" in which he said earlier this year:-

Man was not an accident and reflects an image and likeness unique in the created order. Those aspects of evolutionary theory compatible with this truth are a welcome addition to human knowledge. Aspects of these theories that undermine this truth, however, should be firmly rejected as an atheistic theology posing as science.)

Today's article challenges Senator Brownback's argument:

As evolutionary biologists and cognitive neuroscientists peer ever deeper into the brain, they are discovering more and more genes, brain structures and other physical correlates to feelings like empathy, disgust and joy. That is, they are discovering physical bases for the feelings from which moral sense emerges — not just in people but in other animals as well.

It cites theologians:-
“Evolutionary biology shows the transition from animal to human to be too gradual to make sense of the idea that we humans have souls while animals do not,” wrote Dr. Murphy, an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren. “All the human capacities once attributed to the mind or soul are now being fruitfully studied as brain processes — or, more accurately, I should say, processes involving the brain, the rest of the nervous system and other bodily systems, all interacting with the socio-cultural world.”

Therefore, she writes, it is “faulty” reasoning to want to distinguish people from the rest of creation. She cites the ideas of Thomas Aquinas, the 13th-century philosopher and theologian who, Dr. Haught said, “spoke of a vegetative and animal soul along with the human soul.”

Side Bar: I'm not sure the NY Times is right about Descartes' statement "I think therefore I am" being an argument for the unique existence of the human soul. Wasn't Descartes simply establishing grounds for human existence?

No comments: